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By ESPN Staff

Davies front-runner to replace McLeish

Billy Davies has become the first of the likely candidates to confirm his interest in the Scotland job vacated by Alex McLeish.

The former Derby County manager, who left his Pride Park job on Monday, confirmed on Tuesday night he would be keen to talk to the Scottish Football Association about taking the national team reins.

The Scottish FA board will meet at Hampden Park on Wednesday to discuss the fall-out from McLeish's resignation, the timing of which surprised them.

McLeish submitted a letter of resignation on Tuesday, after the SFA denied him the chance to hold talks with interested parties.

He is expected to take his bow as Birmingham's new manager at 10.30am on Wednesday, half-an-hour before the SFA board come together for a meeting which was originally arranged with a view to putting together a package to offer McLeish.

Davies is immediately available, if the SFA decide he would make a good national manager, and told BBC Sport: 'I'm very open to listen to anything that is offered or put on the table.

'I'm not ruling anything out. If somebody wants to talk to me I will listen and then make a decision.

'The Scotland job is one you don't apply for - the Scottish Football Association know exactly who they want to put in place and the type of man they're looking for.

'You'd be flattered if you can get your name down for it, but everybody in Scotland would want to manage the national team - and that would always be the case.'

It will fall to SFA chief executive Gordon Smith to identify a short-list of contenders for the job.

Smith said that McLeish's exit was 'a big loss' to Scotland.

As well as 43-year-old Davies, Smith could look to the likes of former Scotland captain Gary McAllister, Dundee United manager Craig Levein and Kilmarnock boss Jim Jefferies.

McLeish, 48, quit after seven wins in 10 matches with Scotland. He almost took the team to the Euro 2008 finals, but the dramatic 2-1 defeat to Italy at Hampden 11 days ago ended those hopes.

Asked what McLeish had told him about the decision, Smith stressed: 'He's not said anything; he's sent a written resignation.

'We are very disappointed to lose Alex as our manager.'

The SFA expected they would have more time to persuade McLeish to stay on.

Smith had spent recent days in Durban, South Africa, around the World Cup draw talking to McLeish about not only staying on but extending his contract beyond 2010 on improved terms.

'We were sitting down at this stage and had broached increasing his deal time-wise and financial-wise,' Smith confirmed.

'He has been a terrific manager for Scotland and a great asset to the association.

'He's also been working in other aspects within the SFA - and he's a big loss.'

Scotland lost another national manager in January when Walter Smith rejoined Rangers, and will surely want the next man to commit to staying for the duration of the World Cup campaign.

Former Scotland boss Craig Brown backed Davies as a suitable successor to McLeish.

Brown told Sky Sports: 'I'm not in a position to advise - but, if you were asking me, I would say Billy Davies is hard to beat.

'He is available; he's outstanding and he would make a first-class Scotland manager.'